This album doesn't seem to be too well known, which is odd because it's one of the best Ramones' albums ever. It's also one of the greatest live albums ever. For some reason I haven't seen it getting the credit it deserves. It wasn't even listed on the Ramones page. So I'm trying to do my part in getting it out there by writing a review. Hopefully some of you who read this will pick up this truly amazing album.
The album starts off with a crowd cheering for about 30 seconds before the band launches into "Durango 95". Not the best way to begin but it doesn't really hurt the album too bad. The song is decent but vocal less. It's purpose seems to be to warm up the crowd. This song goes straight into "Blitzkreig Bop", perhaps the most well known Ramones song, but easily the most miss-titled. I cannot begin to count the number of times I have seen this song filed under some variation of "Hey Ho, Let's Go" on mp3 players. So please kids, the songs name is "Blitzkreig Bop". Now that I've got that out of the way I can say what a good song it is. With a catchy tune and catchy lyrics there is absolutely no way you could go wrong with this song. I like the live version better than the studio which goes for a lot of Ramones songs.
Next we have "Do You Remember Rock and Roll Radio"". The studio cut for this song was produced by Phil Spector in typical Phil Spector Fashion. Complete with carnival organ and a brass section it is one of the Ramones most pop tunes. The live version however completely defies this. The horn section is traded in for Johnny's guitar and I must say it's a good trade. The lyrics, however, are impossible to understand unless you have heard the version on End of the Century. Even so this does not take away from the greatness of this song.
Then it's on to their hit, "I Wanna Be Sedated". I am not a huge fan of this song, but they do a good job and it's worth listening to. The next song however, is only funny for about three listens. It is the Spiderman theme song. There is not much that can be said for it. Back to a stretch of good songs for, I Don't Want to Grow Up, Sheena is a Punk Rocker and Rockaway Beach. "Sheena" is a classic Ramones song and the other two are just as good. They all follow the same format and at first listen are hard to distinguish from each other. However, in time they are one of the highlights of the album.
"Strength to Endure" is the next track. It's not very well known but itís a decent, well written song. After that it's a song called "Cretin Family" which is one of the worst songs on the album besides "The Crusher". I don't have much to say about either song because it's hard for me to say bad things about the Ramones and I don't enjoy it. Track 11 is titled "Do You Wanna Dance". This song got most of it's fame from the Roger Corman movie, Rock and Roll High School, which featured the Ramones. This is yet another song improved by live performance. It is true to its name, a very danceable song.
And now we have my favorite track, my favorite Ramones song of all time, "We're a Happy Family". I can't say it's better live only that they do a damn good job. This song is the story of a absurdly dysfunctional family living in Queens. Supposedly it is an elaborated version of the Ramones' own childhood, as is "I Don't Want to Grow Up". "The Crusher" is the next track and I have already said all I'm going to say on that subject. The classic "53rd and 3rd" is Track 14. I didn't care too much for the studio recording so the thank god for the live version.
The end of the album in my opinion is rather week. The only two songs worth a listen are "Pet Semetary" and "Beat on the Brat" and even they are better in the studio. There is a horrid version of "R.A.M.O.N.E.S" and then a song called "Anyway You Want It" and then its over. Despite the weak ending I feel strongly that this is one of the best live albums I have ever heard. It's certainly a great Ramones record. If happened to come into contact with it it's worth a listen.